Jared Rosenbaum is a very gifted analog photographer specializing in portraits. Have a read.
Why and how did you decide to work with film?
I have been obsessed with cameras since childhood. When I was a little kid I would borrow my dad’s Pentax Super Program and take pictures of nothing in particular. I still have that camera. I started shooting film consciously in high school at Northern Secondary, in Toronto, where I currently live. They had a big darkroom and, thinking back on it, it was a great and well stocked little environment. Everyone was given a Pentax K1000 and learned all the basics — composition, lighting, metering, processing, printing. The works.
Two years deep into a combined honours degree in Early Modern Studies and History at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I decided to put things on pause, ship back to Toronto, and make some travel plans. I bought myself a Nikon and flew to Thailand. Over the span of a little more than three months, traveling solo, I really began to develop my “art-eye.” Digital photography became highly unsatisfying… I couldn’t create the images that I saw in my head. [*In fact, I think that’s what makes artists great, you know? When they’re always striving to do more… to create something that is inherent but that still begs for an adequate means of expression.]
So, I came back to Canada. In the summertime I worked as a lighting jockey for a portrait photographer and got a sense for the studio environment — which lacks any real appeal for me, right now at least. I finished my degree and excelled in a photojournalism class run through the School of Journalism at King’s.
I began to build my camera collection… It bordered on obsession. I was checking all manner of online classifieds, constantly, every day, fantasizing about trying new cameras. I would shoot and shoot, experimenting with different film stocks. Everywhere I went, I made a habit of taking a camera with me. This was all 35mm film — colour negative, black and white, and slide… Still, I was looking for more depth in my images.
Everything took a serious turn when I began shooting medium format. The fantastic Gemma Warren, who I play with in a little band called Hexes & Honey, lent me her Hasselblad. I shot a roll of 120 and that was IT. I had found my tool — I had to buy one. The beautiful images that can be created with this camera… that’s why I choose to shoot with film. The look cannot be replicated.
And, I embrace a philosophy of limitation — I think that’s what is special about both shooting medium format films and the Hasselblad system itself. Nothing is automatic, nothing is there to protect your images if you screw up. I like that! I like knowing that I have twelve frames and I have to make them count. Everything has to be done manually… Metering, setting up the exposure, focusing accurately. If it’s not on the negative then it’s not there at all… That whole school of thought.
Even from a standpoint of looking at how my shoots “flow” now… Because the model or whoever can’t look at every image after it’s taken on a little tiny LCD screen that wouldn’t have done the shot justice in the first place. I love that about film — you have to wait. The delayed gratification is supremely satisfying… I’m a forgetful person and photographs both catalog and document my own life. When I pick up processed negatives I get to relive all of these moments.
Who is Matt Bailey? What inspires you on him and what inspires you in people in general?
Matt is an excellent guitarist and songwriter, also based out of Toronto. The portraits of him on my website [jaredcanitakeyourphoto.tumblr.com] are for an upcoming album release and press kit, as far as I know. He’s a super talented guy and very relaxed, a real pleasure to shoot with. I had seen him around but had never really had the pleasure of getting to know the guy until he contacted me to do some work. He plays in a couple groups with some friends of mine, the Long Haul, and with Kirsten “Kirty” Scholte (for whom I have done a couple shoots with recently as well). She is a super babe, incredibly sweet, and a fantastic musician. I did all the photography for her latest album “All I Really Know,” go and find it!
More generally, what inspires me about people is, lately at least, what inspires me regarding photography, period. My work is becoming more and more focused on human elements. I think that the eyes can communicate something deeply human, something very profound. My portraiture is dictated by lighting… I am usually really focused on getting beautiful natural diffused light that fills the eyes of my subject. Without giving away too much, I would say that one of my favourite techniques involves getting my models to look directly into the lens… This is how I think general audiences are able to best connect with photography which, in our day and age, is flipped over at an infuriating pace. Rarely do people take the time to spend time with your images and explore every facet of detail. Something has to capture their attention and hold it, forcefully.
Do you believe in ghosts? Or any horror creatures?
No, can’t say that I do. But I believe that the mind is very powerful and that we can lead ourselves to believe almost anything is real given the right circumstances. When I was in grade six I saw the exorcist in theatres and… I believed in them then. I didn’t sleep for a few weeks.